Demosisto leaders fight to become candidates

Top News | Phoebe Ng 15 Nov 2017

Demosisto leaders Joshua Wong Chi- fung and Ivan Lam Long-yin are seeking a High Court ruling that the ban on anyone who has been jailed for more than three months from running for elected office for five years is unconstitutional.

The rule ruins the political aspirations of Wong and Lam, who were imprisoned for six and 13 months respectively in August over two cases of unlawful assembly.

Filing for a judicial review in the High Court yesterday, Wong said the rule deprives them of a "right to stand for election" and undermines "public confidence" in the electoral process.

"This matter engages a fundamental human right enshrined in the Basic Law and the Bill of Rights," the filing said.

The Legislative Council Ordinance and the District Councils Ordinance state that anyone imprisoned for three months or more is disqualified from contesting an election for five years.

But the three-month jail element and the five-year ban was "disproportionate, unnecessary and unreasonable," the filing said.

It also said the rule failed to allow for "any reflection of the gravity of the offense committed."

Simply banning convicted felons - people indicted for offenses relating to integrity such as electoral offenses, bribery and treason - from public office would suffice, the argument continued.

And if someone jailed for a misdemeanor was elected it would indicate "voters choose to endorse the morality and legitimacy of a candidate."

The application stated that Wong and Lam intend to run in a Legco by-election next year, in District Council elections in 2019 and for the Legco in 2020.

As both were imprisoned in August 2017, a five-year-ban on running means they cannot stand in any election until August 2022.

Wong is currently on bail pending a final appeal against his jail sentence in January. Lam remains in prison.

Wong said that apart from Lam and himself, pro-democracy lawmakers like Tanya Chan Suk-chong and Bottle Siu Ka-chun could lose their rights if indicted for leadership roles in the Occupy movement.

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